The Iranian people desperately want the government to purchase the safe coronavirus vaccines, approved by the World Health Organisation, and begin to roll out the vaccination program in order to save hundreds of thousands of lives.
But, of course, that’s not going to happen. Back in January, after months of lies about sanctions preventing them from buying the vaccines, supreme leader Ali Khamenei actually banned the import of vaccines made in the US or UK, which most approved ones were at the time. Then, they promised that Iranians would get an as-yet-untested Cuba vaccine over the next two years.
Now, it’s the survival of the richest as Coronavirus Task Force Committee spokesperson Alireza Raisi announced that imported vaccines would not be covered by the government, which means that anyone who cannot afford to be vaccinated will have to wait months for their shot. This was confirmed by the Red Crescent, which said that the vaccines would not be free.
This is the culmination of the authorities’ policy to use the pandemic as a means of control, hoping to stop protests that could overthrow them just weeks after the November 2019 protests rocked the system to its core. The mullahs relied on a high death toll to cull potential protesters and terrify the rest. Now, they want to reduce the people’s anger through the import of a fraction of vaccines.
Not to mention that the vaccine money will end up in the hands of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) and Khamenei, extorting from the people, who are in such dire financial straits that they cannot afford poultry, bread, and eggs and live below the poverty line.
Even the state-run media is questioning this decision, with the daily Javan saying on April 19 it would create “corruption, distrust, discrimination, and… black markets”, while the Mardom Salari said that high costs were putting many poorer people off, especially when they were first told it would be free.
The Iranian opposition wrote: “The regime’s criminal measures will have social consequences. Many factions warn of the “ticking social bomb” of the Iranian society and the public outrage that has already manifested itself in five major uprisings in the past two-and-half years. But at this point, it seems that the regime is in a deadlock, and no matter what path it chooses, waiting at the end will be the wrath of the Iranian people and their demands of regime change.”